The Man with the Plastic Smile

November 2020

Smile Hero

Everywhere I look, I see him…

The man with the plastic smile.

You must have seen him. He’s everywhere. I don’t know his name, but it feels like every advert I see lately, he’s in it. I don’t mean on TV, but on billboards, posters and merchandise.

He’s in different poses and wearing different clothes, but it’s definitely him.

White guy, late thirties. I suppose he’s good looking, except for his hair being so greasy. It’s like he’s drenched it in oil or something. Then there’s his smile. That too-wide grin, flashing pristine, pure white teeth. It must be photoshopped, but his teeth somehow look... too perfect. And his eyes too. The smile is bad enough, but the eyes… it’s like he knows something I don’t.

I suppose he does. After all, I have no idea who he is. The sheer volume of exposure he’s getting must mean he’s a big deal to someone. I try to keep up with all the latest fads and fashion trends, but other than the myriad of posters and advertising, I don’t recognise him from anywhere I can think of. He’s not an actor, or musician, or model as far as I’m aware.

All my attempts at googling him have failed. What would I even search for? “Advert guy”? “White male on every billboard”? I keep meaning to take photos of him, but it’s like everytime I see him, I get distracted by something else. I remember something I need to do, or somewhere I need to be.

It probably doesn’t help that I’ve got a lot on my mind at the moment; money is tight and I keep making foolish impulse purchases. I’ve always been a bit of a shopaholic, but I used to spend within my means. Now I’ve maxed out multiple credit cards and I still keep buying new things. I’m going to return the shoes and scarf I bought yesterday, but I can’t exactly do that with the half-eaten chocolates, and I stupidly opened and synced my new fitbit before I remembered I’d already got an apple watch that does practically the same thing. Fingers crossed I can take that back too.

The letters through my door are getting increasingly aggressive. Red font. Underlined. The words “FINAL WARNING” in all caps. So that probably explains why I’m all scatterbrained at the minute. After all, I’ve got more serious things to worry about than some guy on a poster.

But… he’s on every poster.

And it’s like he’s looking at me, specifically, every time I see him. Whenever I notice him, he’s looking precisely in my direction. Or at least, wherever I was stood at the time. It must be coincidence of course, my brain searching for patterns or something. I’m almost glad I never see him on TV. Seeing him move might be too much.

Anyway, I just wanted to ask if anyone else has seen him, more out of curiosity than anything. I’ll try and grab a photo later when I return my stuff. Please don’t give me crap for the fitbit, I know I’m an idiot!


***


Somehow, despite spotting him multiple times today, I never managed to take a photo of the man with the plastic smile.

A few people yesterday asked me for some more descriptions. It’s hard to believe you wouldn’t know exactly who I was talking about if you’d seen him. You know that primal response you get when you lock eyes with someone? Well I get that feeling every time I see his picture. Mainly because it feels like we’re making eye contact when I first glimpse him, before my brain realises it’s just a picture. His smile is pretty distinctive too. You know those dental adverts where the actor is smiling a little too forced for a little too long? Well he makes those people look miserable. It’s like he has too many teeth, all crammed into one mouth, but they’re all perfectly neat and straight. It makes me want to sew his mouth shut. This would have all been a lot easier if I’d just remembered to take the damn photo.

I’m starting to get seriously worried about my memory to be honest. I saw him in four shop windows, on a huge billboard outside my favourite nightclub, on some randomer’s t-shirt and on the side of a phone box. And despite all that, despite him being at the absolute forefront of my mind, I somehow still forgot to photograph him. I only ever remember later, when it’s too late to double back.

Luckily I did manage to return the fitbit. They only gave me a credit note though, which doesn’t help my bleak financial situation much. There’s a newer model that comes with Alexa and let’s you pay for things, so that’s pretty cool. Maybe I should buy that, and sell my Apple Watch. I’ll have to think about that. At least that way, I’d have some actual money in my pocket and not a stupid credit note.

There’s a lot of things I could sell really, come to think of it. There’s no way I’m making rent this month, so I’m going to have to have a big clean out, especially after I registered for Disney+ yesterday. I know, I know, ANOTHER streaming service, but they’ve got so many great shows and are really competitively priced. I’ll just get rid of Netflix or something.

Anyway, back to the man. He was looking exceptionally happy with himself in the latest posters. I’m almost baffled they can roll them out so fast. Yesterday, the billboard I saw him on was advertising Coca-Cola, but today that same billboard had him in front of a load of movie posters. Mulan, and Frozen 2, and that new Black Widow film. Actually this is getting me quite excited to start streaming some movies tonight!

But the man is starting to creep me out a little. Well, a lot to tell the truth. When I saw him on somebody’s t-shirt today, I managed to blurt out “who is that?”, and amazingly I even remembered what they told me. But when I googled it, this “Che Guevara” fellow looked nothing like the man with the plastic smile. I must have heard the name wrong. I spelt it wrong, for a start. It was a similar pose though, so maybe it was just copying that style or something.

I’m starting to think I’ll never know who this man is.

But… and this is going to sound a bit crazy… it feels like he’s following me.


***


The man with the plastic smile is in my house. Not physically of course, I’m sure he’d never do that. The first time I saw him was on a jar of lasagne sauce, before I dropped it at least. I guess he’s the face of Dolmio now? Personally I preferred the puppets. The puppet didn’t make me shiver. Why does he look so happy? Why can’t I look that happy? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone look that happy.

I’ve booked a doctor’s appointment about my memory. You’d think I’d remember buying things with his face on, wouldn’t you, since I’ve basically become obsessed with this man. I’m hoping they can prescribe me some medication, preferably a brand I’ve heard of because I don’t trust those cheap knock-offs.

My main bank account hit the overdraft limit today. Apparently I had a bit of a shopping frenzy, but some of those online deals are irresistible. I must admit, I’m regretting it all now though. I’ve purposely turned the boiler off to save spending money on heating, but then I stupidly went and bought a parka coat! I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Too impulsive, I suppose. Too easily distracted. Too forgetful.

Hopefully things will be better when the doctor rings. All these letters and empty bank accounts are making me feel horrible. I only have one card left that doesn’t get declined, but I daren’t check the balance to see how much I have left to spend on it. It feels like the walls are closing in sometimes. I know none of you have seen the man with the plastic smile, but I have noticed he makes me feel… better. Like everything is going to be ok, you know?

I’ve taken to carrying the jar of sauce around with me. I know it sounds silly, but whenever things get too intense, I just take one look at the man with the plastic smile, and things don’t seem so bad. Smile and the world smiles with you, that’s what they say. Maybe that’s why he’s so popular. I’m probably just an idiot for not seeing it sooner. He still gives me goosebumps, but I’ll take goosebumps over crushing financial anxiety any day.

I’ve decided he definitely is good looking, even if I don’t like his hairstyle. His skin is so smooth and his clothes are always neatly pressed, never a crease on them. His features are almost sculpted, and he always looks so attentive and engaged. So full of life.

Believe it or not, I still haven’t taken a photo (My phone is charging - I’ll take one tonight I swear!) but I did manage to snag a poster of him, and stuck it on my fridge. I must have bought this jar just after that, I suppose? Oh, and the pack of laundry detergent. And the self help book. And the shampoo. You’d think I’d remember buying one of them, wouldn’t you? Shows how bad my memory has gotten I suppose. Fingers crossed this doctor can solve it. I feel like I’d buy anything to fix it at this point. Pay any price.

For now though I’m going to check and see if there’s anything I can do to sort my dire cash flow situation. Thankfully I’ve got the man at the side of the computer keeping me company. Funny how he’s right here next to me, watching me from the label of a jar as I type. At the beginning of all this I didn’t know how I’d ever find out who he was. I suppose I still don’t know, do I? Somehow it seems less important now.

Still, a promise is a promise. I’ll send you a picture tomorrow.


***


My memory must be even worse than I thought. Today I went shopping, and apparently replaced every product in my house. Food. Cleaning. Entertainment. Hygiene. The man with the plastic smile is on the packaging for all of them. What’s weird is when I open the cupboard, each label is slightly different, even on identical cans. No matter where they’re positioned on the shelf, they’re all staring right at me. Making eye contact with me. It almost feels like I’m on a stage. Like every version of the man is waiting for me to do… something. I suppose I bought all these things with his face on to show a picture to you guys, but that does make me wonder why I’d need so many. I must have just gotten carried away like always.

The doctor called earlier, but wouldn’t prescribe me any of the medication I asked for. Not Regeneron. Not Midol. Not Benadryl. I’d not even heard of the ones he mentioned, so I asked for another doctor and they should be ringing me back next week. That guy was probably a quack. If the medicine was worth taking, I’d have no doubt seen a poster of it. If it was any good, the man with the plastic smile would surely be endorsing it, like he does everything else.

Some good news though: I managed to get a great deal on a personal finance loan. Something about consolidating existing debt and lowering monthly payments and APRs. It all went a bit over my head if I’m honest, but my monthly payments are lower.

“Low! Low! Low!” was what they told me. I thought it was catchy.

Oh, and I got the newest Fitbit Charge 4 Advanced. Water resistant, with a longer battery life. Good news is, now I’ve got my accounts sorted, I can buy all those things I’d been forcing myself to wait until next month to buy! I can live my life how I want to, with Payday Loans UK.

I must have bought a jumper with the man on. I must have… changed all my clothes, I suppose? He’s on all of them. Riding the horse on my Ralph Lauren, he’s even on an old Starbucks employee t-shirt I kept from my university days. His face is covering the logo, with his deep blue eyes and perfect smile. I don’t remember replacing any of my clothes like this, but then I don’t remember doing much of anything these days. He’s even on my nike trainers. Just do it!

The man’s smile isn’t so creepy now that I’ve gotten used to it. He looks happy. It makes me think that maybe I could be that happy too. Now when I see him, I try to copy his smile. It hurts my cheeks though, I can’t seem to get it as wide as his, and my teeth aren’t as straight or as white. Or as many. But I’ve heard your teeth can be whiter than white with Dentaclean.

In fact, it’s almost soothing and reassuring to see him on adverts now. I know if he’s endorsing a product, it’s going to be high quality and great value. He’s never steered me wrong before. Reliable. Affordable. Test drive a Hyundai today. The man with the plastic smile can make me happy. I can have a plastic smile too, for a price.

I finally managed to take a photo of him, but it gets corrupted when I try to upload it. I tried on my samsung. Maybe I need an iphone. The new one. I’ve managed to print the picture off just fine though. I printed a hundred copies, just to be sure. My HP Inkjet 2720 wireless all-in-one printer has pixel-perfect quality, so it’s like I’m right there with him. He’s so handsome. The more I see him, the more I’m reminded how much he’s done for me. How good he makes me feel. How much better life can be.

I wish everyone could have a plastic smile. And since you all say you’ve never seen him, I’ve figured out a way to fix that! I’m going to hang his posters up all over town!

Once you’ve seen him, you’ll realise how easy it all is. We can have anything we want! Right now! Soon, we’ll all be smiling. Soon, we’ll all be happy. Forever.*

*Terms and conditions apply.


***

[error code 54] [787]

[agents dispatched]

[CONTAINMENT REPORT AVAILBLE]

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